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French aircraft carrier Arromanches (R95)
HMS Colossus (R15) off Shanghai 1945.jpg
HMS Colossus off Shanghai, 1945.
Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HMS Colossus
Namesake: Colossus
Builder: Vickers-Armstrong
Launched: 30 September 1943
Commissioned: 16 December 1944[1]
Fate: Transferred to French Navy
Career (France)
Name: Arromanches
Namesake: Battle of Normandy
Acquired: 1946[1]
Decommissioned: 1974
Fate: Scrapped 1978
General characteristics
Class & type: Colossus-class aircraft carrier
Displacement: 13 600 tonnes[1]
Length: 212 m (695 ft 6 in)[1]
Beam: 24.4 m (80 ft 1 in)[1]
Draught: 7.2 m (23 ft 7 in)
Propulsion: Steam Turbines (4 Admiralty 3-drum boilers, Parsons geared turbines)
Speed: 25 kn (46 km/h)[1]
Range: 12,000 nmi (22,000 km)[2]
Complement: 1,300
Aircraft carried: 48
Motto: On The Ball
Notes: Her callsign was "Sapho"

Arromanches (R95) was an aircraft carrier of the French Navy, which served from 1946 to 1974. She was previously HMS Colossus (R15) of the Royal Navy. She was the name-ship of the Colossus-class of light carriers. She was commissioned in 1944, but was not used for combat flying in World War II. She served with the British Pacific Fleet in 1945–46, as an aircraft transport and repatriation ship.

In 1946, she was loaned to the French Navy, and renamed Arromanches; she was bought by the French in 1951.

Arromanches participated in the First Indochina War in three campaigns from 1948 to 1954, and the Suez Crisis of 1956. In 1968 she was converted to an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) carrier. She was decommissioned in 1974, and broken up in 1978.

Design and construction

The Colossus class was designed to meet the Royal Navy's wartime need for more carriers as cheaply as possible. They were built to mercantile standards, with no armour, no heavy AA guns, and only 25 kn (46 km/h) speed.[3] She was laid down 1 June 1942 by Vickers-Armstrongs,[2] launched on 30 September 1943, and commissioned on 16 December 1944.[3]

Weapons and systems


Surface search radar display

In 1947 she had for air scanning only, one 79B, for air and surface scanning, one 277 and one 281B. With those she also had a target indicator, a 293. Then in 1954 she still had in her possession a 281B for air and surface scanning a 291B and a 277. Arromanches also still had a 293 as her target indicator. Still for air scanning only she had the 79B, but she also gained later that year a YE and for navigation a DRBN-30. In 1959 she was down-graded and only had a YE in her possession left. That year she gained new scanning equipment. She had a DRBV-22 for air scanning and for surface scanning and navigation a new DRBV-31. And finally in 1972 she was fully downgraded and had her YE removed, but kept her DRBV-22 and DRBV-31 for air, surface, and navigation.[2]



An Oerlikon 20 mm cannon

During her time in military service she had twenty-four Vickers Armstrongs 2 pounder guns, thirty-two Oerlikon 20 mm cannon, later replaced in 1945 by twenty-one Bofors 40 mm guns and four Ordnance QF 3 pounder Vickers guns.[2]


The Breguet Alizé

During her time in service, before 1968 she also carried the Breguet Br-1050 Alizé, the Vought F4U-7 Corsair, the Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat, the Fouga CM-175 Zéphyr, the Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver, the Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless, the SNCASE Aquilon, the Supermarine Seafire Mk III and XV, and the Grumman TBM Avenger.[2] During her time in service, after 1968, she also carried the Alouette II and Alouette III, the Sikorsky S-51, Sikorsky S-55, and Sikorsky S-58, the Piasecki H-21 and Piasecki H-25, and the Morane-Saulnier MS-500 Criquet.[2]

Aeronautical installations

She had a regular flight deck 211 m × 24.5 m (692 ft × 80 ft), catapult at the bow of the ship, two lifts (13.72 m x 10.36 m wide), and a hangar (104.24 x 15.85 m wide) fitted (in 1964) to accommodate 13 TBMs, 2 HUP-2s or 15 F4Us and 2 HUP-2.[2]


As Colossus, she carried 854 crew, plus 222 Fleet Air Arm personnel in the air group.

In French service, she carried 42 officers, 145 petty officers, and 516 sailors in peacetime. Her war complement was 60 officers, 171 petty officers, and 613 sailors.[2]

Operational history

Royal Navy

After working up Colossus left Glasgow on 12 March 1945 for the Far East. She carried 24 Vought Corsair IV fighters from 1846 Naval Air Squadron, and 18 Fairey Barracuda II torpedo bombers from 827 NAS.[4] She arrived at Colombo, Ceylon, on 13 June 1945, sailing on to Sydney, Australia, where she arrived the following month. Here, her 20 mm Oerlikon guns were replaced by 40 mm Bofors guns. In August she became the flagship of Rear Admiral Cecil Harcourt, commanding the 11th Aircraft Carrier Squadron (HMS Colossus, HMS Venerable, HMS Vengeance, and HMS Glory). This force was sent to re-occupy Hong Kong. Colossus also headed a task force to occupy Shanghai, together with the cruisers Bermuda and Argonaut and five destroyers.[5] In December 1945, Colossus transported released Dutch prisoners of war to Colombo.[6] From 17 January to 26 March 1946, Colossus was refitted and repaired at Cape Town in the Selborne drydock at Simonstown.[5]

French Navy

An F6F-5 landing on Arromanches in the Tonkin Gulf, 1953.

In August 1946 Colossus was loaned to France and renamed Arromanches, after the French commune of the same name, which was the site of the British D-Day landings. In 1948, Arromanches participated in the First Indochina War for three months. She returned to France in 1949.[2] In 1951, France purchased the ship. She was again deployed to Indochina in 1953–54.

In 1956, Arromanches was deployed to the eastern Mediterranean Sea during the Suez Crisis[7] On 3 November, 18 F4U Corsairs from Arromanches and Lafayette bombed Egyptian airfields around Cairo.[8]

In 1957–58 Arromanches was reconstructed with a four degree angled flight deck, and with other modifications for anti-submarine warfare, including operation of Breguet Alizé ASW aircraft.[1] She was also equipped for training operations.[9] In 1959 she returned once again to Indochina. In 1968 Arromanches was converted to a helicopter carrier for the French Marines, with up to 24 helicopters on board.[3] This ended her role as a training carrier.[9] Arromanches was decommissioned on 22 Jan 1974, and in 1978 broken up at Toulon, a place of importance for both the first Colossus in 1793, and the last in 1978.[3]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Ireland, Bernard (2007). Aircraft Carriers of the World. Southwater. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-84476-363-4. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 "French Navy – Arromanches". Damien Allard. Archived from the original on 17 Feb 2002. Retrieved 12 May 2008. [dead link]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Royal Navy Aircraft Carriers – Colossus Class". A.C. Walton. Archived from the original on 29 Aug 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2008. [dead link]
  4. Graham R F Drucker. "HMS COLOSSUS aircraft carrier profile. Aircraft Carrier Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945". Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Allied Warships of WWII - Aircraft Carrier HMS Colossus". Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  6. "Ships - HMS Colossus". Cofepow. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  7. "Units in Suez". 1956-11-07. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  8. Arromanches[dead link]
  9. 9.0 9.1 "World Aircraft Carriers list: France – R 95". Andrew Toppan. Retrieved 18 May 2008. 

External links

Coordinates: 25°02′N 122°20′E / 25.033°N 122.333°E / 25.033; 122.333

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